• October 24, 2014
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Journey around Vilnian streets: What happened at Skopówka…

Jan Konrad Obst, who was born in his own house by Bernadine alley 11, which is now known as Adam Mickiewicz Museum (presently belonging to the Vilnius Uniwersity, former Stefan Batory’s University) made it available to tourists without any payment. On 24th December 1917 he wrote in “Dziennik Wileński”:

“Whenever walking alone these winding streets of old town, musing in the cool shadow of our temples or from the top of Zamkowa Mountain, leaning on the jump of Giedymin’s wall tower, I gaze upon the mass of grey and dumpy walls, as if throughout their length and breadth ploughed by the odd creases of the streets, rusty redness of the roofs, overlooking in capricious, bends soaring towers of the churches, which seem to be climbing from this vale to the clear sky where, against bright azure, the beaming crosses glitter with brilliant gilding …”

So, let us take a walk around one of the picturesque winding streets of Vilnius. In its narrowest point the breadth is no more than three meters. It is called Skopówka (S. Skapo g.). After the World War I and till the restoration of Lithuanian independence it was named J. Tallat-Kelpšy Street. However, its present-day name comes from Stanisław Skopa, about whom little is known to the descendants.

Tomas Venclova presents in “Przewodnik biograficzny” that Skop was Secretary of the King Zygmunt I the Old, the tenant of Lida and Bielce and that he had a house by the later Skapówka alley. Let us start our journey from Zamkowa Street (Pilies g.) under the arcade holding the passage between to neighbouring houses.

In his book “Vilnius and its neighbourhood. Literature guide”, the literature historian, dr Józef Szostakowski, writes “Already at his first day in Vilnius, Adam Mickiewicz put on his Sunday bests and paid the visit to father Józef Mickiewicz, the dean of the University’s Department of Mathematics and Physics. After a few days of staying there, the young candidate for student at the Vilnius University moved in to p. Józef Mickiewicz apartment. It is not known if the priest was Adam’s relative or only his namesake. The priest’s apartment was placed in Rector’s House, on the corner of Zamkowa Street 11 (Pilies) and Skapówka Street ( Skapo) behind the arc.

The most symbolical feature of the Street is that on the left side of the wall there is the university Courtyard of Adam Mickiewicz. That contains the Slavic Philology Faculty and the Cathedral of Polish studies Department. The smooth walls of the buildings and brick fences bow slightly to create the picturesque frame for this narrow street, which begins with the beautiful view of the arcade belonging to the classical de Reus castle by the Daukantas square (f. Napoleon square). Its history begins in 1528-1529. At that time the land and the house standing on it was owned by M. Pacewicz. In the middle of XVIII century the single-storey castle was built, but afterwards it was completely rebuilt and Marcin Knackfus built 4-column classical arcade.

This architect is also the author of the renovation of the nearby Łopacińscy-Sulistrowscy castle by Skopówka Street 4. Ignacy Łopaciński, captain of Polish army named Legia Nadwislańska (1785-1857), lived there. He was buried at the orthodox church graveyard in Lipówka. And some more interesting facts: Vladas Drema (Władysław Dremo), the graduate of the USB’s Fine Arts Department, Lithuanian painter, graphic designer, art and architecture historian published several issues of “Vilnius hauses in archives”. The issue nr 7 contains information about Skapówka.

We get to know, for example, that (original language) in 1640 a certain Jewa Żorawska, Pawłowa Kotlikowa after her husband, sold her house and her son-in-law Bartosz Zaręba “took the money for the hose and lost it somewhere, never knowing about them again”. Furthermore, the citizen of this street, Mrs. Cecylia Kostromska sold to Mr. Fedorowicz a Polish horse of yew colour in 1648. Additionally, Mr. Kazimierz Wienski was accused of calling, Jachym Ernest Siodaka’s wife, Gertruda Jachymowa a witch… Those are the blast form this beautiful street’s past…

Translated by Aneta Gębska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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